Healthy Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani

Does this legendary and versatile dish from India need any introduction??  Certainly No. There are twelve variations of Biryani from different states of India. I guess each home or restaurant in India has his own secret recipe for it. Hyderabadi Dum Biryani stands out for its rich and spicy flavor, tempting aroma and colorful presentation. It is made by layering marinated chicken topped with half cooked rice along with few fresh mint leaves, crispy fried onions and spices (called garam masala), covered and sealed with dough and slow cooked to perfection. This process of slow cooking in air tight pot is called dum and it helps the chicken and rice cook in its own steam marrying the flavors from mint, fried onions and other spices. When you make it at home I am sure the aroma will drag people to the dining table.

Chicken Dum Biryani
Chicken Dum Biryani

I made it yesterday and it was already dark by the time everything was ready, as I was experimenting to healthify it up. The food pictures clicked during the day and during the night has so much of difference. These picture actually did not do the justice to it as the color and flavor came out very well (if I can say so). So I decided, for now I will post the recipe but I will revisit soon with better pictures and much more healthified version of the recipe. No..I’m not at all tired of eating it over and over again let alone cooking it. The traditional recipe is worth mastering and its elaborate process needs some patience but I say its worth the taste. See notes below for tradiotional recipe. In my home, my typical Hyderabadi husband asks for it every other week.So I had to healthify it up for some guilt free enjoyment. Serve this chicken and rice delicacy with Mirchi ka Salan (Jalapeno gravy) or with Raita (onion and yogurt dip).

Here are the small substitutions I made to healthify it up:

  1. No red meat. I used boneless breast pieces to cut the saturated fats.
  2. No ghee/butter. I used extra light (not virgin) olive oil to make the dish and that too about 4 tbsp for the whole
  3. I shallow fried the onions. I tried roasting the onion slices but it didn’t work out well so I decided to reduce the quantity of onions and to just use 2 tbsp oil and shallow fry them till golden brown
  4. Reduced salt quantity in rice. Traditionally, we put so much of salt in boiling water to cook rice (like we do for pasta). Here I reduced to half and it didn’t effect much.
  5. Use home made marination and garam masala

Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani



For Marination:

Boneless Chicken Breast: 1/2 kg (cut into 2 inch cubes)

No fat yogurt: 1 1/2 cup

Ginger : 1 1/2 inch piece

Garlic cloves: 9-10 (if using ginger garlic paste use 2 tbsp)

Green chilies: 2

Cloves : 10

Cardamoms: 10

Cinnamon : 5 (1 inch pieces)

Star Anise: 2

Mace: 2

Whole Peppercorns: 10

Coriander seeds: 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds: 1 tsp

Salt: 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder: 1 tsp

Red Chili Powder: 2 tsp

For Basmati Rice:

Long Grain Basmati Rice: 1/2 kg (about 3 heaped cups)

Shah Jeera: 1 tsp

Bay leaves: 3 to 4

Cloves: 5

Cardamom: 5

Cinnamon: 2

Salt: 1 tbsp

Oil: 1/2 tsp

Other Ingredients:

Onions: 1 large, finely sliced

Mint leaves: 1/2 cup, chopped 

Coriander leaves: 1/4 cup, chopped 

Lemon juice: 3 tsp

Saffron Strands: 6-7

Milk: 2 tbsp

Oil: 3 tbsp


  1. Clean chicken, cut into 2 inch cubes, prick with fort and set aside. Clean Basmati rice under tap water and soak it in water for 20 mins
  2. In a blender, add all the dry whole spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, mace, peppercorns, coriander and cumin seeds and grind to fine powder and transfer 1 tbsp of it to another container to garnish in layers of Biryani
  3. Add to the remaining blend, green chilies, garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric and chili powder and little yogurt to blend it to a fine paste
  4. Add the above masala to yogurt and add chicken and rub well with hands. Set it aside for 2 hours in refrigerator atleast
  5. Heat non-stick 5 qt dutch oven (or any heavy bottomed pot to layer biryani), add 2 tbsp of oil and on medium heat add sliced onions. Saute for 10 mins, let it turn golden brown (It will not be crispy. It just caramelizes and then turn brown). Spread them on paper towel
  6. Simultaneously, take a large pot and add plenty of water. Add 1 tbsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of oil, shah jeera, bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamons and cloves and bring to boil
  7. Add Basmati rice to the boiling water, and immediately in a minute remove 1/2 cup of rice aside (This will be first rice layer). After 2 to 3 mins, you will see big boils of rice on top, then immediately drain water and spread rice into another bowl
  8. Now, its time to layer. In the 5 qt pot in which onions are cooked, transfer the marinated chicken, add some garam masala powder, some lemon juice, some mint, coriander leaves, some brown onions, little saffron milk and a pinch of orange red color (added to water)
  9. Add half rice, again some garam masala, mint leaves, brown onions and again little lemon juice
  10. Add other half of rice, remaining garam masala, mint and coriander leaves, brown onions, 2 tbsp of oil and saffron milk
  11. Cover with aluminium foil cover tightly with the lid and set the stove on medium-high heat for 5 mins
  12. Transfer the pot on a tawa/griddle and set the stove to medium-low heat for 25-30 mins

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Biryani feature image 2

biryani feature image1


  1. You can prepare the Biryani in oven too. Simply follow same steps in aluminium tin or oven proof pot and set the oven to 400°F for 15 mins and 325°F for 45 mins
  2. For a traditional recipes, deep fry the onions in mixture of ghee and oil. Use the 1/4 cup of this hot ghee and oil on the last layer
  3. Take care when boiling the rice. Do not overcook it. The rice will be half cooked in just 2 or 3 mins when you add it to boiling water. So stay close by and keep a watch
  4. If you want to check if biryani is cooked, look at the bottom and if there is any water then its not cooked. If there is no water then its cooked. If rice is not cooked, then add 2 tbsp of warm water and mix it lightly and set for another 5 mins

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